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Science Fiction Adventure

I’d die in 2023 in a car accident, the letter said. The last thing I’d see is a pair of headlights crashing through my windshield, shoving me from this world to the next in a shower of blood and broken glass. Congratulations! Your application to participate in--

“Malena, did you get the mail?” Adam’s muffled voice yelled from another room after the screen door slammed shut behind me.   

--the FutureBound© program, beginning October 2nd, 2020, has been approved. Your post-purchase receipt is attached for your reference. You can expect a call from your designated time-travel agent (TTA), Jolene Forrester, at 221-555-2385 to confirm your participation in this exciting opportunity to--

“Lena, did you hear me?” he asked from behind the letter that was shaking in my grip. 

“What is this? A joke?” I snapped, still angry from our divorce hearing earlier in the afternoon. I shoved the letter in his chest. He grabbed it and squinted to read it.

“Wow,” he said, when he’d finally finished. He handed it back to me and shrugged,  “It’s a strange pitch. Did you count the zeros on that receipt?”

My phone vibrated in my pocket, and the screen read “J Forrester - 221-555-2385.” For some reason, I answered it.


The graves were lined like dominos across a vast field of sharp, green grass still laced with dew. In the pale morning light, it didn’t look as surreal as I’d imagined it would when I’d asked my bodyguard, Jin, to drive me here. I placed a single rose in front of a marble headstone that read: 

Malena Young (12)


Death is not the end; 

it is the beginning of eternal life.

I’d brought a dozen roses, one for each of the graves that bore my name -- one for each grave carrying a corpse with my cold decaying flesh.

Malena Young (8)


Death is not the end; 

it is the beginning of eternal life.

Malena Young (1)


Death is not the end; 

it is the beginning of eternal life.

I was one of the few people who’d set flowers on my grave in 2144. I noticed that some headstones had been cracked or vandalized over time. On one, “Time’s up, bitch,” was etched into the glossy white stone. 

I’d learned with the velocity of a water bottle thrown at my head that I may not be the most popular FutureBound participant of 2144.

A video during the FutureBound program inauguration had touched on the controversy of life-extending time travel practices, with a short clip of an animated bear frowning at a lively time-traveling chipmunk after he’d asked to be friends. In the end, Chipper Chipmunk had found a group of like-minded forest critters to galavant with, while Boo the Bummer Bear sulked in the distance. Unlike Chipper, I didn’t care about making friends. It turns out that I just needed a helmet and a healthy dose of distance from the Boos of 2144.

Jin whistled from the car, cueing the end to my morbid reunion with . . . myself. Eight years of therapy couldn’t have prepared me for the experience that, I decided, fell somewhere between traumatic and inspirational. Basically, it was confusing. I made a mental note to ask Jin if they had therapists in 2144 and if the pills were better.

“So, how was it?” he asked, as if I’d just returned from my first day of school. I slid into the passenger seat next to him, even though he insisted the back was safer.

“Oh, you know,” I tried to act like I wasn’t on the verge of a complete nervous breakdown. “I never thought I’d live to see my grave, and now I’ve seen twelve. I guess I’ll make it a baker’s dozen one day.”

“That’s almost the same thing Lena 12 said after I brought her here.” He smiled, “And, yes, from what I understand, the pills are significantly better.”

The engine purred, and he started driving us back home. “So are we all, like, the same?” I asked. 

“You’re only the second Lena I’ve met, so I can’t speak with certainty,” he said. “But you all begin this journey as the same person -- 35 years old, plucked out of your life in 2020 by FutureBound. But over time, your roots take hold, and you grow in different directions like branches on a tree.”

I stared out the window and watched the skyscrapers sway at high altitudes. The smallest were taller than the Burj Khalifa. They were so high, they had to install the same pressurization systems airplanes used in the upper floors, Jin had told me. Adam had been an architect and, although I tried not to think about him at all these days -- he’d died almost a hundred years ago -- I couldn’t help thinking that he would’ve loved to see New York’s skyline in 2144.

“Have you signed the papers yet?” Jin asked, rounding a corner towards the house.

“You mean FutureBound’s life assurance policy? What? Are you eager for 14 to take my place already? It’s only been two weeks.”

He smirked, “You’re going to be a pain in my ass for a long time, Lena 13. Still, it’s the only way you’ll come back if something happens.” 

“You know it costs more money than I’ve ever seen in my life, right? Like, so many zeros.” 

“It’s my understanding that you’ve accumulated a significant amount of wealth over the course of your lives.”

“Pro tip,” I said, throwing in a flirtatious wink that I knew would make him nervous. “Buy Tesla stock in 2019.” 

He tightened his grip on the steering wheel, but didn’t respond. I was about to apologize for being unprofessional, or whatever, but then I froze. I heard the mob before I saw them -- an angry chorus of shouts, like white noise slathered in raw anger. I sucked in a breath when I saw the crowd. Hundreds of people were gathered at the gate, blocking it, holding signs that ranged from carrying a spiritual message, like Eternal life through Christ, to something more pointed. Die, bitch. 

Jin slid the car into reverse. A few scattered members of the crowd spotted us, and were running to catch up. Some were carrying bats while others ran towards us with brain-bashing bricks. “Jin?” My voice shook.

“It’s fine. They can’t catch us on foot but, uh, do me a favor, and get down.”

I slouched in the seat, trying to sink into the upholstery. A rock slammed against the passenger window by my head, and I let out a sharp scream. The car was tank-proof, Jin had assured me earlier, but I still felt exposed, even more aware that my flesh and bones would be so easy to bruise and break after visiting the graves. 

Jin had only been 12’s bodyguard for two years before her head was caved in by a protester with a bat and a grudge. I wondered how long I’d last here . . . 


I marched to the mailbox, still fuming from a heated divorce hearing earlier in the afternoon. I heard my mother’s critical, raspy voice in my head, saying “Divorce isn’t supposed to be easy, honey.” I hated that voice almost as much as I hated Adam and his attorney.

I pulled the mailbox mouth open, stretched my hand in the dark hole, and pulled out a stack of letters. After sifting through the bills and Adam’s junk, I lingered on a bright blue envelope, addressed to me. The name, FutureBound, was etched in the return address field. Curious, I tore the envelope open, and pulled out a letter.

Malena Young

Current expiration date: 2023

Cause: Car accident

FutureBound Destination: 2145

Congratulations! Your application to participate in the FutureBound© program, beginning October 2nd, 2020, has been approved . . .

September 05, 2020 03:10

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1 comment

Sam W
16:39 Sep 11, 2020

Wow. What a ride. I love how time traveling is based on a public corporation, instead of being a closely guarded secret. Does Malena 2020 know about her other lives? Or do they take her to the graves and catch her up on things? I'm left with so many questions... I'd like to know why she dies so soon in so many different timelines. Did I miss something?


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